Crime is an unfortunate fact of life worldwide; sadly, the jewel of the Caribbean is not immune to this fact. However, the Bahamas has also been the recipient of some fairly overblown travel warnings and sensational journalism in recent years, resulting in concerns among travelers considering a trip to the beautiful island nation. Fortunately, much of this concern is unnecessary. Below, we'll explore the truth about crime in the Bahamas, and show how with the same reasonable precautions a seasoned traveler should take in any new country, enjoying the Bahamas trouble-free is an easy affair.
Myth: The Bahamas are Dangerous
Most of this misconception can be attributed to a spike in crime centered in Nassau that occurred in the early 2000's. Thankfully, this spike has since dramatically dropped. In fact, the U.S. Department of State's 2017 Crime & Safety report noted a 26% drop in serious crime, the largest decrease in over 12 years. While crime may be encountered in the Bahamas, particularly in New Providence, serious crimes against tourists are extremely rare. Rather, the vast majority of crime tourists experience consists of petty theft. Further, the majority of these cases are isolated to Nassau, where tourists are well-informed of what areas may be best to avoid; for the average visitor, it is rare to encounter trouble without looking for it.
Myth: Serious Crime is a Risk for Travelers
In addition to the above, many of the "dangers" tourists have reported were due not to crime, but Nassau's congested roads and left-hand-side driving. Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is similarly dangerous throughout the U.S., and uninitiated drivers are just as likely to encounter traffic accidents in any number of new countries.
Serious crime is actually more of a concern for travelers from the Bahamas entering the US, rather than the reverse. Last year, the Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel warning for the U.S. and the Bahamas. However, the warning was for travelers heading to the U.S.A.! The Minister cited the high crime rate of several major U.S. cities, meaning the average traveler is more likely to encounter trouble driving to the airport from home than after arriving in the Bahamas.
Myth: It's Safer to Stay in the U.S.
Americans concerned about a trip to the Bahamas would do well to compare the crime rate to their home city. For comparison, the rate of serious crime against the person in the Bahamas is comparable to that of many of the U.S.'s largest cities. Again, the brunt of the Bahamas' danger is mainly isolated to certain areas of Nassau. Unless you have plans to spend your trip in the capital city, you'll find the Bahamas and the Caribbean at large to be as safe and well-policed as any.
Fact: Tourists Should Still Take Precautions
While we've established that much of the Bahamas' past negative reputation is relatively unfounded, this does not mean that a tourist should dispense with common sense when exploring the country. Travel to an unfamiliar place always carries a risk of trouble, and exercising some basic precautions is always a good idea regardless of your destination. For example:
- Keep your passport and travel documents safe and nearby
- Secure valuables, money, and credit cards
- Avoid drugs and overconsumption of alcohol
- Provide family, friends, or work with up-to-date contact information
- Do not violate any laws of your host country
- Be polite and professional with host country officials
The Caribbean is a rapidly-modernizing place full of friendly, fun-loving people, and a long, colorful history. Like anywhere, remember that being a guest in a new country is a privilege, and by exercising the same etiquette, respect, and common sense as a visitor, you are unlikely to encounter any trouble when exploring one of the most beautiful places in the world.
If you'd like to know more about what life in the Bahamas for a global traveler is like, schedule a Discovery Stay today!